After the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing have been eaten in gluttonous proportions and all of the football games have ended many individuals and families will then sit down and plot their strategy for the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.

This year however thanks to the economic crisis that has gripped the U.S. and the rest of the world since mid-September Black Friday may leave retailers blue.

Normally the lure of deep discounts is enough to lure shoppers to stores hours before they open as they hope to snag that inexpensive flat screen television or incredible bargain on an article of clothing.  But that was the past and now in addition to pricing many items below cost to get consumers to open their wallets stores are adding extra discounts or giving away gift cards with purchases just to stimulate traffic. 

When the crisis first started the Christmas season for retailers was looking very bleak and reported sales figures by the major retailers only confirmed the toll the crisis was having on consumer spending.

But that was before gas prices dropped like a stone to less than $2.00 a gallon nationwide bringing smiles to the faces of consumers.  Yet this will probably not be enough to save the retailers from one of the worst seasons in the last two decades.

The main reason is that we still have a housing slump and foreclosures are continuing apace despite the efforts of the federal government and banks to stem the tide.  Couple that with exceptionally tight credit and portfolios that have been decimated in many cases and you have a pretty poor outlook.

For me, I might venture out to look for a bargain on some items, but I am only talking about things in the $20 range at best.  I don’t plan to map out any particular strategy or arrive early enough to freeze to death just to buy something that I probably don’t need. 

With my own portfolio back to 2004 levels and having seen some $170 k erased since the market’s peak, I am in no mood to splurge on anything.  My losses are probably small by comparison to many as I had a larger cash position than at any time in my life which for the most part spared me from losing even more money.  If I had stayed away from financials I would actually be doing quite well overall, but that’s another story.

I hope that I am wrong and that sales and profits are strong on Friday, but with deep discounting likely to be the norm, I am not optimistic.

It will take a lot of time to restore consumer confidence and anyone who thinks Obama will be able to wave some magic wand to solve this crisis is dreaming. 

The Democrats won the prize they have been seeking for the last eight years but it came with a huge downside in a slumping economy and credit crunch.  If Obama and the congress don’t turn this around quickly 2010 will be a very ugly year for them and 2012 even worse.

Advertisements